Suffolk University Law School has been ranked number one in the country for legal technology by PreLaw Magazine (Fall 2018). In its ranking, the magazine set out to answer the question: Which law schools are doing the best job preparing the lawyers of the future, helping students meet the new demands of the legal industry, and offering a breadth of offerings from clinics, labs and certificate programs to focused coursework.
The magazine included 30 schools in its ranking, with University of California-Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia all placing in the top 20. “To be selected first among so many outstanding peers is a real honor,” said Suffolk Law’s Dean Andrew Perlman, who founded the school’s legal technology program before becoming dean. “It’s terrific to see the hard work of our students and faculty highlighted.”
In an article earlier this year, “How Suffolk Law is redefining practice-ready,” PreLaw Associate Editor Tyler Roberts called Suffolk Law “one of the most innovative forces in legal education.” It may be cliché to say that your school “produces practice-ready lawyers,” Roberts writes, “but the folks at Suffolk University Law School are redefining what that term means in the 21st century.”
A case in point is Gerald Glover III JD ’15, whose cutting-edge job title—legal solutions architect—may be new to some readers. PreLaw caught up with Glover in his Seattle office at Davis Wright Tremaine. Glover described his role at the firm noting that rather than representing clients, his efforts “are geared toward creating innovative business solutions to problems that often involve numerous stakeholders and departments.” His work falls under the areas of project management, process improvement, data visualization, and alternative staffing resources, he said. Glover had been a student in the Suffolk Law’s Legal Innovation & Technology (LIT) Concentration, the nation’s first.
The publication also spoke to David Colarusso, director of the school’s LIT Lab, who said that students in the lab create legal-technology and data-science solutions for clients such as legal aid groups, courts, law firms and nonprofits.
“Our projects have ranged from the creation of expert systems/guided interviews (chatbots) to the training of algorithms to replicate existing human decisions,” Colarusso said. “We worked with a personal injury law firm to train an algorithm to help them figure out if would-be clients were a good fit for the firm based on historic data.”
The magazine calls Dean Perlman one of the country’s first advocates “for more legal technology education in law schools.”
“It’s not about students learning how to use a specific piece of software,” Perlman told PreLaw’s Sherry Karabin. “We are teaching a new kind of issue spotting. We want our students to be able to identify when a legal service is being delivered inefficiently and to know that there are tools and methods that can improve quality and reduce prices.”
Karabin writes that Suffolk offers students the chance to build expert systems, automate documents, and consider new business models for legal work, with electives such as Design Thinking for Legal Professionals and Coding the Law.
Suffolk Law Professor Gabe Teninbaum, director of the school’s Legal Innovation & Technology Institute notes in the article that Suffolk’s students take on externships in innovative legal work environments as one of their concentration requirements, “applying what they’re learning in the classroom to the real world.”
The ABA Journal last year named Teninbaum and Colarusso to its Web 100 list of innovative leaders. The publication called Teninbaum, who directs both the Legal Innovation & Technology Institute and Concentration, "perhaps the most tech-savvy law professor in the country."
It is not only JD students who are benefitting from the program: Suffolk recently launched a first-of-its-kind online legal technology and innovation certificate program. Industry leaders are teaching the courses, including world-renowned experts from major legal organizations.
Perlman, Colarusso and Teninbaum have all been named Fastcase 50 legal innovation visionaries. Perlman served as inaugural chair of the ABA’s Center for Innovation from 2016 to 2018 and is currently a special adviser to the Center.
PreLaw also ranked Suffolk Law among the best schools in the nation for Business Law and Family Law. PreLaw’s editors said the top schools were determined “by looking at their offerings in the specialty from clinical opportunities to certificates to the breadth of their externships,” as well as courses and key faculty.